A/C Disconnect- The main electrical ON-OFF switch near the A/C Condenser.
Aerator- The round screened screw-on tip of a sink spout. It mixes water and air for a smooth flow.
Aggregate- A mixture of sand and stone and a major component of concrete.
Air space – The area between insulation facing and interior of exterior wall coverings. Normally a 1″ air gap.
Anchor bolts- Bolts to secure a wooden sill plate to concrete , or masonry floor or wall.
Apron- A trim board that is installed beneath a window sill
Architect – One who has completed a course of study in building and design, and is licensed by the state as an architect. One who draws up plans.
Area wells- Corrugated metal or concrete barrier walls installed around a basement window to hold back the earth
Astragal- A molding, attached to one of a pair of swinging double doors, against which the other door strikes.
Backfill- The replacement of excavated earth into a trench around or against a basement /crawl space foundationwall.
Ballast- A transformer that steps up the voltage in a florescent lamp.
Balloon – A loan that has a series of monthly payments with the remaining balance due in a large lump sum payment at the end.
Balusters- Vertical members in a railing used between a top rail and bottom rail or the stair treads. Sometimes referred to as ‘pickets’ or ‘spindles’.
Balustrade- The rail, posts and vertical balusters along the edge of a stairway or elevated walkway.
Barge- Horizontal beam rafter that supports shorter rafters.
Barge board- A decorative board covering the projecting rafter (fly rafter) of the gable end. At the cornice, this member is a fascia board.
Base or baseboard- A trim board placed against the wall around the room next to the floor.
Basement window inserts- The window frame and glass unit that is installed in the window buck.
Base shoe- Molding used next to the floor on interior base board. Sometimes called a carpet strip.
Bat – A half-brick.
Batten- Narrow strips of wood used to cover joints or as decorative vertical members over plywood or wide boards.
Bay window- Any window space projecting outward from the walls of a building, either square or polygonal in plan.
Bearing partition- A partition that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight.
Bearing point- A point where a bearing or structural weight is concentrated and transferred to the foundation
Bearing wall- A wall that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight.
Bedrock- A subsurface layer of earth that is suitable to support a structure.
Bifold door- Doors that are hinged in the middle for opening in a smaller area than standard swing doors. Often used for closet doors.
Binder- A receipt for a deposit to secure the right to purchase a home at an agreed terms by a buyer and seller.
Bipass doors- Doors that slide by each other and commonly used as closet doors.
Blankets- Fiber-glass or rock-wool insulation that comes in long rolls 15 or 23 inches wide.
Blocked (door blocking)- Wood shims used between the door frame and the vertical structural wall framing members.
Blocked (rafters)- Short “2 by 4′s” used to keep rafters from twisting, and installed at the ends and at mid-span.
Blocking- Small wood pieces to brace framing members or to provide a nailing base for gypsum board or paneling.
Blow insulation- Fiber insulation in loose form and used to insulate attics and existing walls where framing members are not exposed.
Boom- A truck used to hoist heavy material up and into place. To put trusses on a home or to set a heavy beam into place.
Bottom chord – The lower or bottom horizontal member of a truss.
Bottom plate- The “2 by 4′s or 6′s” that lay on the subfloor upon which the vertical studs are installed. Also called the ‘sole plate’.
Breaker panel- The electrical box that distributes electric power entering the home to each branch circuit (each plug and switch) and composed of circuit breakers.
Brick ledge- Part of the foundation wall where brick (veneer) will rest.
Brick lintel- The metal angle iron that brick rests on, especially above a window, door, or other opening.
Brick veneer- A vertical facing of brick laid against and fastened to sheathing of a framed wall or tile wall construction.
Buck- Often used in reference to rough frame opening members. Door bucks used in reference to metal door frame. See Window Bucks
Building codes- Community ordinances governing the manner in which a home may be constructed or modified.
Building insurance- Insurance covering the structure of the building. .
Bull nose – Rounded drywall corners.
Bundle – A package of shingles. Normally, there are 3 bundles per square and 27 shingles per bundle.
Butt edge- The lower edge of the shingle tabs.
Butt hinge- The most common type. One leaf attaches to the door’s edge, the other to its jamb.
Buy down- A subsidy (usually paid by a builder or developer) to reduce monthly payments on a mortgage.
By fold door- Doors that are hinged in the middle for opening in a smaller area than standard swing doors. Often used for closet doors.
By pass doors- Doors that slide by each other and commonly used as closet doors.
Cap- The upper member of a column, pilaster, door cornice, molding, or fireplace.
Cap flashing- The portion of the flashing attached to a vertical surface to prevent water from migrating behind the base flashing.
Capital- The principal part of a loan, i.e. the original amount borrowed.
Casement- Frames of wood or metal enclosing part (or all) of a window sash. May be opened by means of hinges affixed to the vertical edges.
Casement Window- A window with hinges on one of the vertical sides and swings open like a normal door
Casing- Wood trim molding installed around a door or window opening.
Celotex ™- Black fibrous board that is used as exterior sheething.
Cement- The gray powder that is the “glue” in concrete. Portland cement. Also, any adhesive.
Ceramic tile- A man-made or machine-made clay tile used to finish a floor or wall. Generally used in bathtub and shower enclosures and on counter tops.
Chair rail- Interior trim material installed about 3-4 feet up the wall, horizontally.
Chalk line- A line made by snapping a taut string or cord dusted with chalk. Used for alignment purposes.
Change order- A written document which modifies the plans and specifications and/or the price of the construction Contract.
Chase- A framed enclosed space around a flue pipe or a channel in a wall, or through a ceiling for something to lie in or pass through.
Chink- To install fiberglass insulation around all exterior door and window frames, wall corners, and small gaps in the exterior wall.
Circuit- The path of electrical flow from a power source through an outlet and back to ground.
Clean out- An opening providing access to a drain line. Closed with a threaded plug.
Clip ties- Sharp, cut metal wires that protrude out of a concrete foundation wall (that at one time held the foundation form panels in place).
Cold air return- The ductwork (and related grills) that carries room air back to the furnace for re-heating.
Collar- Preformed flange placed over a vent pipe to seal the roofing above the vent pipe opening. Also called a vent sleeve.
Collar beam- Nominal 1- or 2-inch-thick members connecting opposite roof rafters. They serve to stiffen the roof structure.
Column- A vertical structural compression member which supports loads.
Combustion chamber- The part of a boiler, furnace or woodstove where the burn occurs; normally lined with firebrick or molded or sprayed insulation.
Compression web- A member of a truss system which connects the bottom and top chords and which provides downward support.
Concrete block – A hollow concrete ‘brick’ often 8″ x 8″ x 16″ in size.
Concrete board – A panel made out of concrete and fiberglass usually used as a tile backing material. .
Condensing unit – The outdoor component of a cooling system. It includes a compressor and condensing coil designed to give off heat.
Conduction- The direct transfer of heat energy through a material.
Conductivity- The rate at which heat is transmitted through a material.
Conduit, electrical- A pipe, usually metal, in which wire is installed.
Construction, frame- A type of construction in which the structural components are wood or depend upon a wood frame for support.
Continuity tester- A device that tells whether a circuit is capable of carrying electricity.
Control joint- Tooled, straight grooves made on concrete floors to “control” where the concrete should crack
Convection- Currents created by heating air, which then rises and pulls cooler air behind it. Also see radiation.
Conventional loan A mortgage loan not insured by a government agency (such as FHA or VA)
Convertibility The ability to change a loan from an adjustable rate schedule to a fixed rate schedule.
Cooling load- The amount of cooling required to keep a building at a specified temperature during the summer, usually 78° F, regardless of outside temperature.
Coped joint- Cutting and fitting woodwork to an irregular surface.
Corbel- The triangular, decorative and supporting member that holds a mantel or horizontal shelf.
Corner bead- A strip of formed sheet metal placed on outside corners of drywall before applying drywall ‘mud’.
Corner boards- Used as trim for the external corners of a house or other frame structure against which the ends of the siding are finished.
Corner braces- Diagonal braces at the corners of the framed structure designed to stiffen and strengthen the wall.
Cornice- Overhang of a pitched roof , usually consisting of a fascia board, a soffit and appropriate trim moldings.
Counter flashing- A metal flashing usually used on chimneys at the roofline to cover shingle flashing and used to prevent moisture entry.
Cove molding- A molding with a concave face used as trim or to finish interior corners.
Crawl space- A shallow space below the living quarters of a house, normally enclosed by the foundation wall and having a dirt floor.
Cripple- Short vertical “2 by 4′s or 6′s” frame lumber installed above a window or door.
Cross bridging- Diagonal bracing between adjacent floor joists, placed near the center of the joist span to prevent joists from twisting.
Cross Tee- Short metal “T” beam used in suspended ceiling systems to bridge the spaces between the main beams.
Crown molding- A molding used on cornice or wherever an interior angle is to be covered, especially at the roof and wall corner.
Culvert- Round, corrugated drain pipe (normally 15″ or 18″ in diameter) that is installed beneath a driveway and parallel to and near the street.
Cupping- A type of warping that causes boards to curl up at their edges.
Curb- The short elevation of an exterior wall above the deck of a roof. Normally a 2 by 6 box (on the roof) on which a skylight is attached.
Cut-in brace- Nominal 2-inch-thick members, usually 2 by 4′s, cut in between each stud diagonally.
Dado- A groove cut into a board or panel intended to receive the edge of a connecting board or panel.
Damper- A metal “door” placed within the fireplace chimney. Normally closed when the fireplace is not in use.
Dampproofing- The black, tar like waterproofing material applied to the exterior of a foundation wall.
Daylight- The end of a pipe (the terminal end) that is not attached to anything.
Dead light- The fixed, non-operable window section of a window unit.
Deck, decked- To install the plywood or wafer board sheeting on the floor joists, rafters, or trusses.
Default- Breach of a mortgage contract (not making the required payments).
De-humidistat- A control mechanism used to operate a mechanical ventilation system based upon the relative humidity in the home.
Delamination- Separation of the plies in a panel due to failure of the adhesive. Usually caused by excessive moisture.
Disconnect- A large (generally 20 Amp) electrical ON-OFF switch.
Discount rate- A mortgage interest rate that is lower than the current rate for a certain period of time, e.g. 2.00% below variable rate for 2 years.
Door operator- An automatic garage door opener.
Door stop- The wooden style that the door slab will rest upon when it’s in a closed position.
Dormer- An opening in a sloping roof, the framing of which projects out to form a vertical wall suitable for windows or other openings.
Double glass- Window or door in which two panes of glass are used with a sealed air space between. Also known as Insulating Glass.
Double hung window- A window with two vertically sliding sashes, both of which can move up and down.
Down payment- The difference between the sales price and the mortgage amount. A downpayment is usually paid at closing.
Downspout- A pipe, usually of metal, for carrying rainwater down from the roof’s horizontal gutters.
Draw- The amount of progress billings on a contract that is currently available to a contractor under a contract with a fixed payment schedule. .
Drip cap- A molding or metal flashing placed on the exterior topside of a door or window frame to cause water to drip beyond the outside of the frame.
Dry in- To install the black roofing felt (tar paper) on the roof.
Due-on-sale- A clause in a mortgage contract requiring the borrower to pay the entire outstanding balance upon sale or transfer of the property.
DWV (drain-waste-vent)- The section of a plumbing system that carries water and sewer gases out of a home.
Earnest Money- A sum paid to the seller to show that a potential purchaser is serious about buying.
Eaves- The horizontal exterior roof overhang.
Egress- A means of exiting the home. An egress window is required in every bedroom and basement. Normally a 4′ X 4′ window is the minimum size required
Elbow (ell)- A plumbing or electrical fitting that lets you change directions in runs of pipe or conduit.
Electric resistance coils- Metal wires that heat up when electric current passes through them and are used in baseboard heaters and electric water heaters.
Elevation sheet- The page on the blue prints that depicts the house or room as if a vertical plane were passed through the structure.
Equity- The “valuation” that you own in your home, i.e. the property value less the mortgage loan outstanding.
Escrow – The handling of funds or documents by a third party on behalf of the buyer and/or seller. .
Escutcheon- An ornamental plate that fits around a pipe extending through a wall or floor to hide the cut out hole
Estimating- The process of calculating the cost of a project. This can be a formal and exact process or a quick and imprecise process.
Evaporator coil- The part of a cooling system that absorbs heat from air in your home. Also see condensing unit.
Expansive soils- Earth that swells and contracts depending on the amount of water that is present. (“Betonite” is an expansive soil).
Face nail- To install nails into the vertical face of a bearing header or beam.
Faced concrete- To finish the front and all vertical sides of a concrete porch, step(s), or patio. Normally the “face” is broom finished.
Facing brick- The brick used and exposed on the outside of a wall. Usually these have a finished texture.
Fascia- Horizontal boards attached to rafter/truss ends at the eaves and along gables. Roof drain gutters are attached to the fascia.
Felt- Tar paper. Installed under the roof shingles. Normally 15 lb. or 30 lb.
Female- Any part, such as a nut or fitting, into which another (male) part can be inserted. Internal threads are female.
Field measure- To take measurements (cabinets, countertops, stairs, shower doors, etc.) in the home itself instead of using the blueprints.
Fire block- Short horizontal members sometimes nailed between studs, usually about halfway up a wall. See also ‘Fire stop’.
Fire brick- Brick made of refractory ceramic material which will resist high temperatures. Used in a fireplace and boiler.
Fish tape- A long strip of spring steel used for fishing cables and for pulling wires through conduit.
Fixed price contract- A contract with a set price for the work. See Time and Materials Contract.
Fixed Rate Mortgage- A mortgage with an interest rate that remains the same over the years.
Flagstone (flagging or flags)- Flat stones (1 to 4 inches thick) used for walks, steps, floors, and vertical veneer (in lieu of brick).
Flame retention burner- An oil burner, designed to hold the flame near the nozzle surface. Generally the most efficient type for residential use.
Flashing- Sheet metal or other material used in roof and wall construction to protect a building from water seepage.
Flat mold- Thin wood strips installed over the butt seam of cabinet skins.
Flat paint- An interior paint that contains a high proportion of pigment and dries to a flat or lusterless finish.
Flatwork- Common word for concrete floors, driveways, basements, and sidewalks.
Floating- The next-to-last stage in concrete work, when you smooth off the job and bring water to the surface by using a hand float or bull float.
Flue collar- Round metal ring which fits around the heat flue pipe after the pipe passes out of the roof.
Fly rafters- End rafters of the gable overhang supported by roof sheathing and lookouts.
Footer, footing- Continuous 8″ or 10″ thick concrete pad installed before and supports the foundation wall or monopost.
Form- Temporary structure erected to contain concrete during placing and initial hardening.
Foundation- The supporting portion of a structure below the first floor construction, or below grade, including the footings.
Foundation ties- Metal wires that hold the foundation wall panels and rebar in place during the concrete pour.
Frame Inspection- The act of inspecting the home’s structural integrity and it’s complianceto local municipal codes.
Framing- Lumber used for the structural members of a building, such as studs, joists, and rafters.
Frieze- In house construction a horizontal member connecting the top of the siding with the soffit of the cornice.
Frost lid- Round metal lid that is installed on a water meter pit.
Frost line- The depth of frost penetration in soil and/or the depth at which the earth will freeze and swell. This depth varies in different parts of the country.
Furring strips- Strips of wood, often 1 X 2 and used to shim out and provide a level fastening surface for a wall or ceiling.
Fuse- A device often found in older homes designed to prevent overloads in electrical lines. This protects against fire. See also ‘circuit breakers
Gable- The end, upper, triangular area of a home, beneath the roof.
Gang nail plate- A steel plate attached to both sides at each joint of a truss. Sometimes called a fishplate or gussett.
Gate valve- A valve that lets you completely stop—but not modulate—the flow within a pipe. .
Gas lateral- The trench or area in the yard where the gas line service is located, or the work of installing the gas service to a home.
Girder- A large or principal beam of wood or steel used to support concentrated loads at isolated points along its length.
Glazing- The process of installing glass, which commonly is secured with glazier’s points and glazing compound.
Globe valve- A valve that lets you adjust the flow of water to any rate between fully on and fully off. Also see gate valve.
Gloss enamel- A finishing paint material. Forms a hard coating with maximum smoothness of surface and dries to a sheen or luster (gloss)
Grade- Ground level, or the elevation at any given point. Also the work of leveling dirt. Also the designated quality of a manufactured piece of wood.
Grain- The direction, size, arrangement, appearance, or quality of the fibers in wood.
Groundwater- Water from an aquifer or subsurface water source.
Gutter- A shallow channel or conduit of metal or wood set below and along the (fascia) eaves of a house to catch and carry off rainwater from the roof.
Gypsum plaster- Gypsum formulated to be used with the addition of sand and water for base-coat plaster.
H Clip- Small metal clips formed like an “H” that fits at the joints of two plywood (or wafer board) sheets to stiffen the joint. Normally used on the roof sheeting.
Haunch- An extension, knee like protrusion of the foundation wall that a concrete porch or patio will rest upon for support.
Hearth- The fireproof area directly in front of a fireplace. The inner or outer floor of a fireplace, usually made of brick, tile, or stone.
Heating load- The amount of heating required to keep a building at a specified temperature during the winter, usually 65° F, regardless of outside temperature.
Heat meter- An electrical municipal inspection of the electric meter breaker panel box.
Heat pump- A mechanical device which uses compression and decompression of gas to heat and/or cool a house.
Heel cut- A notch cut in the end of a rafter to permit it to fit flat on a wall and on the top, doubled, exterior wall plate.
Highlights- A light spot, area, or streak on a painted surface.
Hip- A roof with four sloping sides. The external angle formed by the meeting of two sloping sides of a roof.
Hip roof- A roof that rises by inclined planes from all four sides of a building.
Home run (electrical)- The electrical cable that carries power from the main circuit breaker panel to the first electrical box, plug, or switch in the circuit.
Hose bib- An exterior water faucet (sill cock).
Hurricane clip- Metal straps that are nailed and secure the roof rafters and trusses to the top horizontal wall plate. Sometimes called a Teco clip.
H V A C- An abbreviation for Heat, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.
Incandescent lamp- A lamp employing an electrically charged metal filament that glows at white heat. A typical light bulb.
Index- The interest rate or adjustment standard that determines the changes in monthly payments for an adjustable rate loan.
Infiltration- The passage of air from indoors to outdoors and vice versa; term is usually associated with drafts from cracks, seams or holes in buildings.
Inside corner- The point at which two walls form an internal angle, as in the corner of a room.
Insulating glass- Window or door in which two panes of glass are used with a sealed air space between. Also known as Double glass.
Insulation- Any material high in resistance to heat transmission that, when placed in the walls, ceiling, or floors of a structure, and will reduce the rate of heat flow.
Interest – The cost paid to a lender for borrowed money.
Interior finish- Material used to cover the interior framed areas of walls and ceilings
Irrigation- Lawn sprinkler system.
Jack rafter- A rafter that spans the distance from the wall plate to a hip, or from a valley to a ridge.
Jamb- The side and head lining of a doorway, window, or other opening. Includes studs as well as the frame and trim.
Joint- The location between the touching surfaces of two members or components joined and held together by nails, glue, cement, mortar, or other means.
Joint tenancy- A form of ownership in which the tenants own a property equally. If one dies, the other automatically inherits the entire property.
Joint trench- When the electric company and telephone company dig one trench and “drop” both of their service lines in.
Joist- Wooden 2 X 8′s, 10′s, or 12′s that run parallel to one another and support a floor or ceiling, and supported in turn by larger beams, girders, or bearing walls.
Joist hanger- A metal “U” shaped item used to support the end of a floor joist and attached with hardened nails to another bearing joist or beam.
Keeper- The metal latch plate in a door frame into which a doorknob plunger latches.
Keyless- A plastic or porcelain light fixture that operates by a pull string. Generally found in the basement, crawl space , and attic areas.
Kilowatt (kw)- One thousand watts. A kilowatt hour is the base unit used in measuring electrical consumption. Also see watt.
King stud- The vertical “2 X’s” frame lumber (left and right) of a window or door opening, and runs continuously from the bottom sole plate to the top plate.
Knot- In lumber, the portion of a branch or limb of a tree that appears on the edge or face of the piece.
Laminating- Bonding together two or more layers of materials.
Lap- To cover the surface of one shingle or roll with another.
Lath- A building material of narrow wood, metal, gypsum, or insulating board that is fastened to the frame of a building to act as a base for plaster, shingles, or tiles.
Lattice- An open framework of criss-crossed wood or metal strips that form regular, patterned spaces.
Ledger (for a Structural Floor)- The wooden perimeter frame lumber member that bolts onto the face of a foundation wall and supports the wood structural floor.
Ledger strip- A strip of lumber nailed along the bottom of the side of a girder on which joists rest.
Level- True horizontal. Also a tool used to determine level.
Level Payment Mortgage- A mortgage with identical monthly payments over the life of the loan.
Lien- An encumbrance that usually makes real or personal property the security for payment of a debt or discharge of an obligation.
Light- Space in a window sash for a single pane of glass. Also, a pane of glass.
Limit switch- A safety control that automatically shuts off a furnace if it gets too hot. Most also control blower cycles.
Lintel- A horizontal structural member that supports the load over an opening such as a door or window.
Lookout- A short wood bracket or cantilever that supports an overhang portion of a roof.
Lumens- Unit of measure for total light output. The amount of light falling on a surface of one square foot.
Male- Any part, such as a bolt, designed to fit into another (female) part. External threads are male.
Mantel- The shelf above a fireplace opening. Also used in referring to the decorative trim around a fireplace opening.
Masonry- Stone, brick, concrete, hollow-tile, concrete block, or other similar building units or materials. Normally bonded together with mortar to form a wall.
Mastic- A pasty material used as a cement (as for setting tile) or a protective coating (as for thermal insulation or waterproofing)
Milar (mylar)- Plastic, transparent copies of a blueprint.
Molding- A wood strip having an engraved, decorative surface.
Monopost- Adjustable metal column used to support a beam or bearing point. Normally 11 gauge or Schedule 40 metal, and determined by the structural engineer
Mortar- A mixture of cement (or lime) with sand and water used in masonry work.
Mortise- A slot cut into a board, plank, or timber, usually edgewise, to receive the tenon (or tongue) of another board, plank, or timber to form a joint. .
Mullion- A vertical divider in the frame between windows, doors, or other openings.
Muntin- A small member which divides the glass or openings of sash or doors.
Muriatic acid- Commonly used as a brick cleaner after masonry work is completed.
Mushroom- The unacceptable occurrence when the top of a caisson concrete pier spreads out and hardens to become wider than the foundation wall thickness.
Nail inspection- An inspection made by a municipal building inspector after the drywall material is hung with nails and screws (and before taping).
Neutral wire- Usually color-coded white, this carries electricity from an outlet back to the service panel. Also see hot wire and ground.
Newel post- The large starting post to which the end of a stair guard railing or balustrade is fastened.
Nonbearing wall- A wall supporting no load other than its own weight.
Nosing- The projecting edge of a molding or drip or the front edge of a stair tread.
Notch- A crosswise groove at the end of a board.
Note- A formal document showing the existence of a debt and stating the terms of repayment.
Nozzle- The part of a heating system that sprays the fuel of fuel-air mixture into the combustion chamber.
O C- On Center- The measurement of spacing for studs, rafters, and joists in a building from the center of one member to the center of the next.
Oakum- Loose hemp or jute fiber that’s impregnated with tar or pitch and used to caulk large seams or for packing plumbing pipe joints
Oriented Strand Board or OSB- A manufactured 4′ X 8′ wood panel made out of 1″- 2″ wood chips and glue. Often used as a substitute for plywood.
Outrigger- An extension of a rafter beyond the wall line. Usually a smaller member nailed to a larger rafter to form a cornice or roof overhang.
Outside corner- The point at which two walls form an external angle, one you usually can walk around.
Overhang- Outward projecting eave-soffit area of a roof; the part of the roof that hangs out or over the outside wall. See also Cornice.
Padding- A material installed under carpet to add foot comfort, isolate sound, and to prolong carpet life.
Pad out, pack out- To shim out or add strips of wood to a wall or ceiling in order that the finished ceiling/wall will appear correct.
Paint- A combination of pigments with suitable thinners or oils to provide decorative and protective coatings. Can be oil based or latex water based.
Pallets- Wooden platforms used for storing and shipping material. Forklifts and hand trucks are used to move these wooden platforms around.
Panel- A thin flat piece of wood, plywood, or similar material, framed by stiles and rails as in a door (or cabinet door), or fitted into grooves.
Parapet- A wall placed at the edge of a roof to prevent people from falling off.
Parting stop or strip- A small wood piece used in the side and head jambs of double hung windows to separate the upper sash from the lower sash.
Partition- A wall that subdivides spaces within any story of a building or room.
Paver, paving- Materials—commonly masonry—laid down to make a firm, even surface.
Pedestal- A metal box installed at various locations along utility easements that contain electrical, telephone, or cable television switches and connections.
Permeability- A measure of the ease with which water penetrates a material.
Permit – A governmental municipal authorization to perform a building process as in:
Pigtails, electrical- The electric cord that the electrician provides and installs on an appliance such as a garbage disposal, dishwasher, or range hood.
Pier- A column of masonry, usually rectangular in horizontal cross section, used to support other structural members. Also see Caisson.
Pigment- A powdered solid used in paint or enamel to give it a color.
Pilot hole- A small-diameter, pre-drilled hole that guides a nail or screw.
Pilot light- A small, continuous flame (in a hot water heater, boiler, or furnace) that ignites gas or oil burners when needed.
PITI – Principal, interest, taxes and insurance (the four major components of monthly housing payments).
Plan view- Drawing of a structure with the view from overhead, looking down.
Plate- Normally a 2 X 4 or 2 X 6 that lays horizontally within a framed structure.
Plenum- The main hot-air supply duct leading from a furnace.
Plough, plow- To cut a lengthwise groove in a board or plank. An exterior handrail normally has a ploughed groove for hand gripping purposes
Plumb- Exactly vertical and perpendicular.
Plumb bob- A lead weight attached to a string. It is the tool used in determining plumb.
Plumbing boots- Metal saddles used to strengthen a bearing wall/vertical stud(s) where a plumbing drain line has been cut through and installed.
Plumbing ground- The plumbing drain and waste lines that are installed beneath a basement floor.
Plumbing jacks- Sleeves that fit around drain and waste vent pipes at, and are nailed to, the roof sheeting.
Plumbing stack- A plumbing vent pipe that penetrates the roof.
Plumbing waste line- Plastic pipe used to collect and drain sewage waste.
Ply- A term to denote the number of layers of roofing felt, veneer in plywood, or layers in built-up materials, in any finished piece of such material.
Point load- A point where a bearing/structural weight is concentrated and transferred to the foundation.
Portland cement- Cement made by heating clay and crushed limestone into a brick and then grinding to a pulverized powder state.
Post- A vertical framing member usually designed to carry a beam. Often a 4″ x 4″, a 6″ x 6″, or a metal pipe with a flat plate on top and bottom.
Post-and-beam- A basic building method that uses just a few hefty posts and beams to support an entire structure. Contrasts with stud framing.
Power vent- A vent that includes a fan to speed up air flow. Often installed on roofs.
Premium- Amount payable on a loan.
Pressure-treated wood- Lumber that has been saturated with a preservative.
Principal- The original amount of the loan, the capital.
Property survey- A survey to determine the boundaries of your property. The cost depends on the complexity of the survey.
P trap- Curved, “U” section of drain pipe that holds a water seal to prevent sewer gasses from entering the home through a fixtures water drain.
Pump mix- Special concrete that will be used in a concrete pump. Generally, the mix has smaller rock aggregate than regular mix.
Punch list- A list of discrepancies that need to be corrected by the contractor.
Punch out- To inspect and make a discrepancy list.
Putty- A type of dough used in sealing glass in the sash, filling small holes and crevices in wood, and for similar purposes.
Quarter round- A small trim molding that has the cross section of a quarter circle.
Rabbet- A rectangular longitudinal groove cut in the corner edge of a board or plank.
Radiation- Energy transmitted from a heat source to the air around it. Radiators actually depend more on convection than radiation.
Radon system- A ventilation system beneath the floor of a basement and/or structural wood floor and designed to fan exhaust radon gas to the outside of the home
Rafter, hip- A rafter that forms the intersection of an external roof angle.
Rafter, valley- A rafter that forms the intersection of an internal roof angle. The valley rafter is normally made of double 2-inch-thick members.
Rake- Slope or slanted.
Rake fascia- The vertical face of the sloping end of a roof eave.
Rake siding- The practice of installing lap siding diagonally
Ranch- A single story, one level home.
Ready mixed concrete- Concrete mixed at a plant or in trucks en route to a job and delivered ready for placement.
Recording fee – A charge for recording the transfer of a property, paid to a city, county, or other appropriate branch of government.
Redline, red lined prints- Blueprints that reflect changes and that are marked with red pencil.
Reducer- A fitting with different size openings at either end and used to go from a larger to a smaller pipe.
Reflective insulation- Sheet material with one or both faces covered with aluminum foil.
Register- A grill placed over a heating duct or cold air return.
Reglaze- To replace a broken window.
Relief valve- A device designed to open if it detects excess temperature or pressure. .
Retaining wall- A structure that holds back a slope and prevents erosion.
Retentions- Amounts withheld from progress billings until final and satisfactory project completion.
Ribbon (girt)- Normally a 1 X 4 board let into the studs horizontally to support the ceiling or second-floor joists.
Ridge- The horizontal line at the junction of the top edges of two sloping roof surfaces.
Ridge board- The board placed on the ridge of the roof onto which the upper ends of other rafters are fastened.
Ridge shingles- Shingles used to cover the ridge board.
Rim joist- A joist that runs around the perimeter of the floor joists and home.
Rise- The vertical distance from the eaves line to the ridge. Also the vertical distance from stair tread to stair tread (and not to exceed 7 ½”).
Riser- Each of the vertical boards closing the spaces between the treads of stairways.
Riser and panel- The exterior vertical pipe (riser) and metal electric box (panel) the electrician provides and installs at the “Rough Electric” stage.
Road base- A aggregate mixture of sand and stone.
Rock 1, 2, 3- When referring to drywall, this means to install drywall to the walls and ceilings (with nails and screws), and before taping is performed.
Roll, rolling- To install the floor joists or trusses in their correct place. (To “roll the floor” means to install the floor joists).
Romex- A name brand of nonmetallic sheathed electrical cable that is used for indoor wiring.
Romex- A name brand of nonmetallic sheathed electrical cable that is used for indoor wiring.
Roof jack- Sleeves that fit around the black plumbing waste vent pipes at, and are nailed to, the roof sheeting.
Roof joist- The rafters of a flat roof. Lumber used to support the roof sheeting and roof loads. Generally, 2 X 10′s and 2 X 12′s are used.
Roof sheathing or sheeting- The wood panels or sheet material fastened to the roof rafters or trusses on which the shingle or other roof covering is laid.
Roof valley- The “V” created where two sloping roofs meet.
Rough opening- The horizontal and vertical measurement of a window or door opening before drywall or siding is installed.
Rough sill- The framing member at the bottom of a rough opening for a window. It is attached to the cripple studs below the rough opening.
Run, roof – The horizontal distance from the eaves to a point directly under the ridge. One half the span.
Run, stair- the horizontal distance of a stair tread from the nose to the riser.
Sack mix- The amount of Portland cement in a cubic yard of concrete mix. Generally, 5 or 6 sack is required in a foundation wall.
Sand float finish- Lime that is mixed with sand, resulting in a textured finish on a wall.
Sash- A single light frame containing one or more lights of glass. The frame that holds the glass in a window, often the movable part of the window.
Sash balance- A device, usually operated by a spring and designed to hold a single hung window vent up and in place
Saturated felt- A felt which is impregnated with tar or asphalt.
Schedule (window, door, mirror)- A table on the blueprints that list the sizes, quantities and locations of the windows, doors and mirrors.
Scrap out- The removal of all drywall material and debris after the home is “hung out” (installed) with drywall.
Scratch coat- The first coat of plaster, which is scratched to form a bond for a second coat.
Screed, concrete- To level off concrete to the correct elevation during a concrete pour.
Screed, plaster- A small strip of wood, usually the thickness of the plaster coat, used as a guide for plastering.
Scribing- Cutting and fitting woodwork to an irregular surface.
Scupper- (1) An opening for drainage in a wall, curb or parapet. (2) The drain in a downspout or flat roof, usually connected to the downspout.
Sealer- A finishing material, either clear or pigmented, that is usually applied directly over raw wood for the purpose of sealing the wood surface.
Seasoning- Drying and removing moisture from green wood in order to improve its usability.
Self-sealing shingles- Shingles containing factory-applied strips or spots of self-sealing adhesive.
Service entrance panel- Main power cabinet where electricity enters a home wiring system.
Service equipment- Main control gear at the service entrance, such as circuit breakers, switches, and fuses.
Service lateral- Underground power supply line.
Settlement- Shifts in a structure, usually caused by freeze-thaw cycles underground.
Sewer stub- The junction at the municipal sewer system where the home’s sewer line is connected.
Sewer tap- The physical connection point where the home’s sewer line connects to the main municipal sewer line.
Sheathing, sheeting- The structural wood panel covering, usually OSB or plywood, used over studs, floor joists or rafters/trusses of a structure.
Shed roof- A roof containing only one sloping plane.
Sheet metal work- All components of a house employing sheet metal, such as flashing, gutters, and downspouts.
Shingles- Roof covering of asphalt. asbestos, wood, tile, slate, or other material cut to stock lengths, widths, and thickness’.
Shingles, siding- Various kinds of shingles, used over sheathing for exterior wall covering of a structure.
Siding- The finished exterior covering of the outside walls of a frame building.
Sill cock- An exterior water faucet (hose bib).
Sill seal- Fiberglass or foam insulation installed between the foundation wall and sill (wood) plate. Designed to seal any cracks or gaps.
Single hung window- A window with one vertically sliding sash or window vent.
Skylight- A more or less horizontal window located on the roof of a building.
Slab, concrete- Concrete pavement, i.e. driveways, garages, and basement floors.
Slab, door- A rectangular door without hinges or frame.
Slag- Concrete cement that sometimes covers the vertical face of the foundation void material.
Sleeper- Usually, a wood member embedded in concrete, as in a floor, that serves to support and to fasten the subfloor or flooring. .
Slope- The incline angle of a roof surface, given as a ratio of the rise (in inches) to the run (in feet). See also pitch.
Slump- The “wetness” of concrete. A 3 inch slump is dryer and stiffer than a 5 inch slump.
Soffit- The area below the eaves and overhangs. The underside where the roof overhangs the walls. Usually the underside of an overhanging cornice.
Soil pipe- A large pipe that carries liquid and solid wastes to a sewer or septic tank.
Soil stack- A plumbing vent pipe that penetrates the roof.
Sole plate- The bottom, horizontal framing member of a wall that’s attached to the floor sheeting and vertical wall studs.
Solid bridging- A solid member placed between adjacent floor joists near the center of the span to prevent joists or rafters from twisting.
Sonotube- Round, large cardboard tubes designed to hold wet concrete in place until it hardens.
Sound attenuation- Sound proofing a wall or subfloor, generally with fiberglass insulation.
Space heat- Heat supplied to the living space, for example, to a room or the living area of a building.
Spacing- The distance between individual members or shingles in building construction.
Span- The clear distance that a framing member carries a load without support between structural supports. The horizontal distance from eaves to eaves.
Spec home- A house built before it is sold. The builder speculates that he can sell it at a profit.
Square-tab shingles- Shingles on which tabs are all the same size and exposure.
Squeegie- Fine pea gravel used to grade a floor (normally before concrete is placed).
Stack (trusses)- To position trusses on the walls in their correct location.
Starter strip- Asphalt roofing applied at the eaves that provides protection by filling in the spaces under the cutouts and joints of the first course of shingles.
Stair carriage or stringer- Supporting member for stair treads. Usually a 2 X 12 inch plank notched to receive the treads; sometimes called a “rough horse.”
Stair rise- The vertical distance from stair tread to stair tread (and not to exceed 7 ½”).
Static vent- A vent that does not include a fan.
STC (Sound Transmission Class)- The measure of sound stopping of ordinary noise.
Stick built- A house built without prefabricated parts. Also called conventional building.
Stile- An upright framing member in a panel door.
Stool- The flat molding fitted over the window sill between jambs and contacting the bottom rail of the lower sash. Also another name for toilet.
Stops- Moldings along the inner edges of a door or window frame. Also valves used to shut off water to a fixture.
Storm sash or storm window-. An extra window usually placed outside of an existing one, as additional protection against cold weather.
Storm sewer- A sewer system designed to collect storm water and is separated from the waste water system.
Story- That part of a building between any floor or between the floor and roof.
Strike- The plate on a door frame that engages a latch or dead bolt.
Strip flooring- Wood flooring consisting of narrow, matched strips.
Structural floor- A framed lumber floor that is installed as a basement floor instead of concrete. This is done on very expansive soils.
Stub, stubbed- To push through.
Stucco- Refers to an outside plaster finish made with Portland cement as its base.
Stud- A vertical wood framing member, also referred to as a wall stud, attached to the horizontal sole plate below and the top plate above.
Stud framing- A building method that distributes structural loads to each of a series of relatively lightweight studs. Contrasts with post-and-beam. .
Subfloor- The framing components of a floor to include the sill plate, floor joists, and deck sheeting over which a finish floor is to be laid.
Sump- Pit or large plastic bucket/barrel inside the home designed to collect ground water from a perimeter drain system.
Sump pump- A submersible pump in a sump pit that pumps any excess ground water to the outside of the home.
Suspended ceiling- A ceiling system supported by hanging it from the overhead structural framing.
Switch- A device that completes or disconnects an electrical circuit.
Tab – The exposed portion of strip shingles defined by cutouts.
Tail beam- A relatively short beam or joist supported in a wall on one end and by a header at the other.
Take off- The material necessary to complete a job.
Taping- The process of covering drywall joints with paper tape and joint compound.
Teco- Metal straps that are nailed and secure the roof rafters and trusses to the top horizontal wall plate. Sometimes called a hurricane clip.
Tee- A “T” shaped plumbing fitting. .
Termites- Wood eating insects that superficially resemble ants in size and general appearance, and live in colonies.
Termite shield- A shield, usually of galvanized metal, placed in or on a foundation wall or around pipes to prevent the passage of termites.
Terra cotta- A ceramic material molded into masonry units.
Thermostat- A device which relegates the temperature of a room or building by switching heating or cooling equipment on or off.
Threshold- The bottom metal or wood plate of an exterior door frame. Generally they are adjustable to keep a tight fit with the door slab.
Tinner- Another name for the heating contractor.
Tip up- The downspout extension that directs water (from the home’s gutter system) away from the home. They typically swing up when mowing the lawn, etc.
Title- Evidence (usually in the form of a certificate or deed) of a person’s legal right to ownership of a property.
Toenailing- To drive a nail in at a slant. Method used to secure floor joists to the plate.
Top chord- The upper or top member of a truss.
Top plate- Top horizontal member of a frame wall supporting ceiling joists, rafters, or other members.
Transmitter (garage door)- The small, push button device that causes the garage door to open or close.
Trap- A plumbing fitting that holds water to prevent air, gas, and vermin from backing up into a fixture.
Tread- The walking surface board in a stairway on which the foot is placed. .
Trimmer- The vertical stud that supports a header at a door, window, or other opening.
Tub trap- Curved, “U” shaped section of a bath tub drain pipe that holds a water seal to prevent sewer gasses from entering the home through tubs water drain.
Turnkey- A term used when the subcontractor provides all materials (and labor) for a job.
Turpentine- A petroleum, volatile oil used as a thinner in paints and as a solvent in varnishes.
UL (Underwriters’ Laboratories)- An independent testing agency that checks electrical devices and other components for possible safety hazards.
Underground plumbing- The plumbing drain and waste lines that are installed beneath a basement floor.
Union- A plumbing fitting that joins pipes end-to-end so they can be dismantled.
Valley- The “V” shaped area of a roof where two sloping roofs meet. Water drains off the roof at the valleys.
Valley flashing- Sheet metal that lays in the “V” area of a roof valley.
Valuation- An inspection carried out for the benefit of the mortgage lender to ascertain if a property is a good security for a loan.
Vent- A pipe or duct which allows the flow of air and gasses to the outside. Also, another word for the moving glass part of a window sash, i.e. window vent.
Vermiculite- A mineral used as bulk insulation and also as aggregate in insulating and acoustical plaster and in insulating concrete floors.
Visqueen- A 4 mil or 6 mil plastic sheeting.
Wafer board – A manufactured wood panel made out of 1″- 2″ wood chips and glue. Often used as a substitute for plywood in the exterior wall and roof sheathing.
Walk-Through- A final inspection of a home before “Closing” to look for and document problems that need to be corrected.
Wall out- When a painter pray paints the interior of a home.
Waste pipe and vent- Plumbing plastic pipe that carries waste water to the municipal sewage system.
Water board- Water resistant drywall to be used in tub and shower locations. Normally green or blue colored
Water meter pit (or vault)- The box /cast iron bonnet and concrete rings that contains the water meter.
Water-repellent preservative- A liquid applied to wood to give the wood water repellant properties
Water table- The location of the underground water, and the vertical distance from the surface of the earth to this underground water.
Water tap- The connection point where the home water line connects to the main municipal water system.
W C- An abbreviation for water closet (toilet).
Weatherstrip- Narrow sections of thin metal or other material installed to prevent the infiltration of air and moisture around windows and doors.
Weep holes- Small holes in storm window frames that allow moisture to escape.
Whole house fan- A fan designed to move air through and out of a home and normally installed in the ceiling.
Window frame- The stationary part of a window unit; window sash fits into the window frame.
Window sash- The operating or movable part of a window; the sash is made of window panes and their border.
Wire nut- A plastic device used to connect bare wires together.
Wrapped drywall- Areas that get complete drywall covering, as in the doorway openings of bifold and bipass closet doors.
Y- A “Y” shaped plumbing fitting.
Yoke- The location where a home’s water meter is sometimes installed between two copper pipes, and located in the water meter pit in the yard.
Zone- The section of a building that is served by one heating or cooling loop because it has noticeably distinct heating or cooling needs. Also, the section of property that will be watered from a lawn sprinkler system.
Zoning- A governmental process and specification which limits the use of a property e.g. single family use, high rise residential use, industrial use, etc. Zoning laws may limit where you can locate a structure. Also see building codes.